What is a union?

Simply put, a union is a group of colleagues who come together to advance their common interests with collective power. A union is not an outside organization or a third party; it is a democratic organization run by its members who make decisions and set direction on their own behalf.

Over many years, the collective action of union members has had a substantial impact on wages, benefits, equality and workplace protections. In fact, unions have played a pivotal role in securing important gains that benefit everyone, though we may take them for granted.

Source: Illinois Federation of Teachers

Strong unions mean strong communities because unions help all workers, not just their members, earn higher wages. For example, an average worker in a “right-to-work” state makes about $6,000 less per year than he or she would in a free bargaining state.

As the inequality gap between the very rich and very poor widens, unions are more important than ever for middle-class families. And by promoting equal pay for equal work, unions help reduce inequalities and close the wage gaps faced by women and people of color.

Unions also help protect members’ rights and voice in the workplace, as well as the ability to advocate for those they serve.